JESICA SIMPSON, 32, and Jeremy Lauder, 31, of Bridesburg, own Derisory Designs, a screen-printing shop in the basement of a repurposed industrial building on 2nd Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia. The married couple's company specializes in custom screen-printed apparel, art prints and promotional items. Jeremy oversees the printing side, and Jesica handles the books and customer service. I spoke with Jesica.
Q: How did the biz start?
A: In 2004, Jeremy and two friends wanted to make and sell Philly T-shirts, but other people were doing it and his friends split. Jeremy wanted to print for brands, and in 2005 we started dating and I got involved. We worked out of his rowhouse in Kensington with a printer in the basement.
Q: How did you get financing?
A: [Jeremy] initially got $5,000 from family, which enabled him to buy a screen-printing press. We worked part time until 2008, when we were laid off from our jobs - he was an architect and I was an interior designer - and we went full time with the business. Then we got some loans from a micro-lender to ramp up.
Q: Where did you get the loans?
A: Finanta. The first one was $39,000, and we used that to buy an automatic screen-printing press. We got a second loan for operating capital and to buy smaller equipment. That was for $35,000, after we paid off the first loan.
Q: What does the business do?
A: Custom screen-printed apparel. We consider ourselves apparel decorators, because we do more than just screen-printing.
Q: How's the biz model work?
A: We're really trying to feed two markets. Derisory Designs is a contract business for established clothing brands. They come to us with orders - hundreds of shirts - and we print and package it and they ship it to their wholesalers. That's about 95 percent of our business. We just launched teesdelivered.com for direct-to-consumer market.
Q: How much do Derisory Design print services cost?
A: For a one-color print, 12-shirt minimum, it's $7 per shirt. For more-complicated prints involving multiple colors, we have a 36-shirt minimum and that starts at $9.15 per shirt.
Q: Who are the customers?
A: Philly Phaithful does a lot of sports T-shirts. Duke & Winston is a local clothing brand we work with. We also work with a brand called Too Fast Apparel. They do gothic-alternative apparel.
Q: What's been the biggest challenge growing the business?
A: I think cash flow, workload and finding employees. We don't have all the amenities a larger corporation does, but we're loyal.
Q: How big a business is this?
A: $500,000 in annual revenue.
Q: How many employees?
A: Four full and one part time.
On Twitter: @MHinkelman